We live in a big and diverse world and because the world is so big and so different from place to place we get a lot of our concept of other places from various stories, movies, comics and reputational urban legends.
This past week we were on location in New York City. This is a place with both an overall bad reputation as well as individual smaller scale bad reputations. What are those reputations? That it’s dangerous, that people are rude and mean, that the place is dirty and you’ll be mugged and so on and so on and so on.
Let me share with you 4 stories that fly in the face of all those clichés.
In New York city they have metro cards. Many cities across the world have them and essentially, it’s a single card system where you can add money to a card that allows you to take the subway, train, bus etc. it’s actually a very efficient system. Our first time riding the subway we got single ride cards. They were only good for 2 hours and we just wanted to try subway travel on for size before committing to a larger card.
In an effort to keep people from sharing cards the automated gate where you swipe your card doesn’t allow the same card to be swiped twice at the same gate within a specified time interval. I know this because I swiped my card and didn’t walk through the turnstile in time thus leaving me on the outside of the gate and my card wouldn’t work at that gate again for at least 30 minutes. Annoying to be sure. Additionally, my wife had already passed through so were on opposite sides of the gate both frustrated. As we’re looking at each other. A woman comes from nowhere out from behind me swipes her card and lets me through and then just walks on. She was on her way and wearing headphones she didn’t have any reason to stop or even to pay attention to what was happening but yet she did this for me.
New York has a major reputation for everyone being out to get you, rob you hustle you and get whatever they can from you. This is the story of the time I left my camera in the both at a pizza shop.
This is something that could happen to anyone anywhere. I was carrying a lot of things and walking back and from between the Javits Center where New York Comicon was taking place and various other locations in Manhattan. It was bound to happen eventually with all the chaos of the event and the city around us. We stopped at this pizza suprema in Manhattan for lunch (pretty damn good pizza by the way) and we left and went back to Comicon. Business as usual. All told about an hour or so later is when we realized our camera was missing and I, believing the stories id always heard, assumed that it was gone for good. My wife, on the other hand, looked up the number and called the restaurant. They said “oh yeah, we found it right after you left. Someone brought it up and we have it come and get it whenever you can”. Not only did no one take it they turned it in, they weren’t rude or anything they are a very busy restaurant and they didn’t mind taking a minute to take our call and when we arrived to grab our camera from the locked box they put it in when they found it.
Central Park, Just the name conjures all kinds of scary imagery to those who haven’t been there. We’ve all heard horror stories of all kinds of crimes happening in the park. If you haven’t been and only knew this stigma you’d expect to see the park vacant most the time but especially from sundown till sun up right? Let me tell you that this is the exact opposite. The park I’m sure has seen some less than wonderful things here and there, however, there is no fear in the [park and we were there at all hours. It was a beautiful place that yielded amazing sights and fantastic experiences.
There are certain iconic places in the world that when you’re nearby, you’re simply compelled to go and see. One such place is the famous Katz Deli in Lower Manhattan. A sandwich shop that opened in 1888… seriously a staple sandwich shop that’s over 120 years old. Famous the world over for their pastrami and I can tell you the fame is very, very well deserved.
This place has a bit of a unique flow to it which, while effective, was a bit different than we were used to. The place was packed, of course, it’s world famous and there is always a ton of people waiting. As my wife and I stood around not quite sure what to do or where to go. No one but several of the local patrons who could just tell that we
were lost explained and led us to the right places and showed us just what to do. This older woman even told the meat carver to take good care of us. The guy behind the counter also walked us through the ordering process. This all sounds simple and mundane I realize but I can tell you that in this city that has a larger population than the whole state we came from. The people in here even in this small way all made sure we got taken care of. More than I can say for some of the smaller towns we have been.
Bonus story, every single and I mean every single police office we walked by was super nice and helpful they would hang out and chat with you and they never once gave me that long stair I’m used to.
I found it important to mention these things for a few reasons. Not just to dispel the rumors that New York is all bad but also because in this world act of compassion are so desperately needed. Those of us who were nerds before it became cool and accepted, know that the smallest act of kindness from a word that normally is harsh can make a huge difference. It’s nice to hear stories about how people were decent and helpful for a change.
I definitely recommend New York for vacation and if you have the opportunity to visit New York Comicon you need to take it. What an amazing ride.